Palm just rolled out its Palm pre smartphone on Sprint, in a high-profile move designed to put the company back at the forefront of the mobile technology industry and give the Apple iPhone a serious run for its money. Now, Palm is making another high-profile play, appointing former iPod developer Jon Rubenstein to the CEO position.
Rubenstein joined Palm from Apple in October 2007 as Executive Chairman; he’ll take over the reins from Ed Colligan on June 12. Colligan says he plans to take time off, then join Elevation Partners, a private equity firm that counts U2′s Bono as one of its high profile investors—and which, incidentally, has been one of Palm’s backers as the company tries to re-assert itself in the technology industry. Rubenstein joined Pal when Elevation put its first stake in the company.
“I am very excited about taking on this expanded role at Palm,” said Rubinstein, in a statement. “Ed and I have worked very hard together the past two years, and I’m grateful to him for everything he’s done to help set the company up for success.”
Prior to Palm, Rubenstein served as the head of Apple’s hardware engineering group and played a central role in developing Apple’s well-received iMac computers and now-ubiquitous iPod media players. Eventually he headed up Apple’s iPod division. Prior to Apple, Rubenstein served at Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ computer company NeXT and Hewlett-Packard.
Industry watchers are generally upbeat about Rubenstein taking over the CEO role and pushing Palm closer to the consumer marketplace: Rubenstein has a proven track record of understanding what consumers want in a device and executing hardware that meets those expectations. The consumer response to the Palm pre—and its webOS operating system—are seem as the first proof the Rubenstein can execute in the mobile phone arena; investors are hopeful that with Rubenstein at the helm, Palm can once again be a major player in the mobile technology arena.